Mini Monets and Mommies: Coffee Filter Art Experiment: Kids' Art Exploration

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Coffee Filter Art Experiment: Kids' Art Exploration

The colorful spreadable wonder of coffee filter art is hardly breaking news. If you talk to 10 early childhood educators, it’s likely that 9 (if not all 10) have tried this science + art experiment. That said, tinkering with the basic idea is a concept that intrigues me. As if asking your child “What do you think will happen to the color?” isn’t educational enough why not add a bonus step and try different ways of coloring the coffee filter?

Coffee Filter
I don’t drink coffee. After managing a coffee house (what else does an art history/film studies double major do with her degree?) I was sick of the stuff and gave it up. Luckily my husband doesn’t leave the house without it, so we have plenty of filters hanging around. We didn’t have a pipette and spilling water all over my house wasn’t on the agenda for the day, so my 12-year-old came up with the idea to use a straw to wet the filters. He put the straw into the water and as it filled, he put his finger on the open end to keep the liquid inside. Here’s what happened when I tried a few different ways of coloring the filters:

Tempera paint- Love the stuff, but it was way too thick to do much. I probably should have brushed on less, but in any case – I don’t think that this ideal for coffee filter art.

Art Exploration
The tempera paint didn't spread much.
Food coloring- When working with kids, this is what I usually use for this project (or water color paints with the same consistency). They spread like a dream and create a tie-dye style design.

Children's activities

Filter Craft
This coffee filter looks like a tie-dye.
Tissue paper- I’m a little obsessed with non-colorfast tissue paper. I’ve made rain prints with it, colored Model Magic with it and even made an Earth model using it to create ocean and continent colors with it. You absolutely cannot use colorfast or non-bleeding tissue. It won’t work. You also should stay away from pastels. The vibrant hues work better.

I tore up the tissue and put it on the filter before adding water. Worked like a charm. Plus it came out with a pretty print!
Kids' crafts

tissue art
Markers- I got the idea that these writing tools could work like paints from a super-creative post on Happy Hooligans that details how to make your own water colors out of dried up markers. So, I started with a washable markers (because the color will run), and drew a few circles. After adding water, the color ran and created a delicate design. The only drawback is – too much water and the color fades away.

Drawing crafts

Strawberries- I have a thing about using food for art that you aren’t going to eat. But, I also dropped half a pack of strawberries on the floor (mere feet away from where the dog had just had an accident minutes before – I had cleaned it, but still…). There was no way that I was washing the berries off and eating them. I cut them apart, pressed them into the filter to release the juice and let the water run. The result was a pretty pink color.

Fresh fruit

Print-making craft
The verdict: Food colors were the easiest, brightest and (in my opinion) best for this art activity. The tissue paper came in a close second. The color wasn’t as bright, but it’s a different way to spread the color onto the filters and it creates interesting patterns.

Are you a fan of coffee filter art? Leave a comment about what technique your kids like best.

Looking for more art and science activities for kids? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Preschool Art and Science Activities on Pinterest.


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